Ken Clarke is often lauded, or dammed, as the fifth Liberal in the cabinet, but his decision to impose mandatory minimum sentences on certain crimes is a sad reversion to the Tory stereotype. With all their faults we have an experienced and generally competent judiciary, and it should be up to them, not politicians seeking to appease the Daily Mail, to decide, having heard all the evidence, what punishment, and rehabilitation, is appropriate to each individual criminal. There are always exceptions to prove any rule.
Measures to increase the certainty of getting caught, rather than simply ratcheting up the punishments, are the way to reduce crime. Clarke's earlier remarks about trying to develop constructive ways to reduce the numbers in prison, ("an expensive way of making bad people worse" to quote an earlier Tory,) are more appro0riate for a liberal, even a closet one.